A league in Bethesda, Maryland, has tried fining parents who misbehave at youth soccer games, but that didn’t work. They just paid it and kept yelling. So now they banished them from the sideline – forcing them to watch from 100 yards away. Many used binoculars to see the action.
The trouble began when a parent from the Springfield Youth Club’s Xplosion working as an assistant referee raised a flag in the air and called an offside violation on a Bethesda player, according to the minutes of the disciplinary hearing. After the game, a Bethesda parent approached the referee and accused him of making the wrong call, the report says. The parent “started to raise his voice,” according to the report. More sniping occurred, and “the tone and behavior of the parents was aggressive.” Then another Bethesda parent allegedly yelled at the referee’s daughter, “Your father should be fired!”
The league’s disciplinary committee ruled that the Bethesda parents had violated the league’s code of conduct — which asks parents to refrain from questioning referees’ calls — through “egregious” behavior that “has no place in youth sports.” They ruled that the parents could not be on the sidelines for the first two games of this season.
That’s good stuff. This league doesn’t mess around – they even have sportsmanship liaisons for each team. And one of the parents inadvertently showed why this method will probably work when she was interviewed:
“It’s embarrassing,” one of the parents said. “This is seventh-grade soccer.” Across the way, Potomac lawyer Philip Page watched his daughter Jacqueline play through binoculars, which was “very maddening.” Especially because he wasn’t even at the game where the unsportsmanlike conduct occurred. “We accepted our punishment, and we’re abiding by it,” Page said. “One of the functions of sports is to teach sportsmanship. When we as parents violate that, the girls need to see there are consequences to those actions.”
Emphasis mine. What other innovative ideas have you encountered with leagues trying to address poor parent (and coach) behavior?